Ninety years after Fred and Gertrude Peaslee bought their potato farm in Guildhall, their family continues their legacy today, Peaslee’s Vermont Potatoes. This is one of the few potato farms in the state, producing around one million pounds of potatoes every year. Nationally, it is the only potato farm that is entirely female owned and operated!
We spoke with Karen Guile-Caron, Fred and Gertrude’s granddaughter, and third generation owner of the farm. With admiration, she reflected on the efforts and successes of her grandparents. “I admire their tenacity to say, ‘We want to do this,’… the farm is still going because of their vision,” said Karen. Her grandparents purchased the farm in 1928, during the Great Depression. They built their barn from scratch to include a 15-foot-high concrete basement, all hand mixed with no rebar, just stones.
Above: Karen stands with her crop in the basement that her grandparents built nearly a century ago. Below: Bert Peaslee, Karen’s father, stacking potatoes. Bert and his wife Janice were the second generation to run Peaslee’s Vermont Potatoes.
In 2013, with help from Vermont Land Trust, and support from private, state, and federal funding, the family protected two parcels of land, totaling 167 acres with nearly a mile of frontage on the Connecticut River. “We are proud of our family heritage and by protecting this land we are able to honor our father and his parents for their tireless efforts,” said Karen.
Currently, the farm is delivering their potatoes within a 50-mile radius, and through Black River Produce, Upper Valley Produce, and Venture Center. Through Sodexo, they supply Vermont Colleges with local potatoes.
Karen believes in the importance of supporting and buying local for both the economy and landscape. “Farming isn’t easy, I think about what my grandparents did during the Great Depression, their beliefs and vision. My goal is to keep looking forward and hope that people buy local.”